"The most common menstrual products are a veritable cornucopia of plastic." - Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic, September 6th 2019.
The taboo which surrounds periods and menstruation can be seen to date back to ancient Greece where menstrual blood was viewed as insalubrious and that it needed to be expelled to maintain balance and health. The general attitude was that periods were poisonous and this persisted for centuries. Understanding this can give us some idea why talking about periods has been so difficult and remained a taboo. But its time to move on because we have bigger issues at hand. Disposable period products are a major contributor to the plastic waste that builds up in landfill or floats around our oceans. I saw a picture recently of a beach clean up where they found an assortment of tampon applicators washed up. Who's to know, one of those could have been yours! But it seems like we haven't had much of a choice, disposable was the only way I knew of for nearly 10 years!
Disposable period products have been the norm for so long because anything reusable seems unsightly and embarrassing. If it's disposable it remains unseen and discreet. Many period products today are marketed for their discretion, I remember when we had 'the talk' at school one of my teachers told us, "Don't worry pads have flowers on them and the boys won't even know what it is". I know this wasn't her intention but this was unconsciously teaching young girls to be ashamed of their period even though it's completely natural. The fact that boys were made to leave the room for 'the talk' makes it even more taboo. Ideally, this wouldn't be how it goes today and I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that you shouldn't be embarrassed. Young girls should be aware that it just takes time to get a handle on having a period and that's why they want to make it discreet for you. They should also be aware of what is actually available to you!
In a previous blog, I discussed menstrual cups and that I think they are so fantastic because they are reusable. But some women find it hard to use products such as tampons and cups so this isn't really an option for them. Worry no more because I have the solution! Reusable sanitary pads! It seems obvious really and I don't know why it has taken me so long to discover them. It was only the beginning of last year that I bought mine and yet again I would never go back. The ones I initially bought aren't ideal and am still looking for some that might suit me better. However, I have still found them to be much better than their disposable alternatives.
Reusable pads might seem a bit off-putting because you need to wash them and they might get stained. But to many of us, this can happen to an unfortunate pair (or even your favourite pair) of undies every month because of leaks anyway. Because they can be seen, it makes them off-putting. But if you're worried about your neighbours seeing them hanging on the washing line, they probably see your pants so it shouldn't be that much different. For the sake of the environment, we need to stop making people who have periods feel ashamed of them!
Here are the pros and cons I have found with using a reusable pad:
1) no more plastic noises when you're walking.
2) They don't get stuck to your leg hairs (or any other hairs) and feel like you're getting a micro wax when you walk.
3) I never find myself caught out because I forgot to buy some pads as there will always be a stash in my draw freshly washed.
4) They don't leak as much (or at least the ones I use don't).
5) Sometimes they are even more discreet.
6) You can pick whatever designs you want. (If you want pretty undies why not have pretty pads too).
7) I have no worries about them ending up in landfill or in the oceans!
1) I am still figuring out the ones that work for me and my shape.
2) They can be a bit bulky.
3) Not enough people have made ones which are for light periods or like liners.
Here are a few you can buy online that might suit you:
1) Hey girl reusable pads- £32.50. You can buy a day or night pads each with come with a wet bag so you can store used pads in them if needed. This is a bit pricier but for a product, you buy from Heygirls they donate one to girls who can't afford to buy menstrual hygiene products. This is not only a good brand to support for sustainable reasons, but also for social charitable reasons as well.
2)AIYoo Bamboo Charcoal Reusable Sanitary Pads (Amazon) - £13.99-£16.99
These pads have three optional sizes dependent on your flow. These are also made from bamboo and charcoal fabrics which have antibacterial properties.
3)Bloom & Nora, Nora starter kit- £33.95
Bloom and Nora are an award-wining UK sustainable personal care company who offer a range of different menstrual products and pads made to be practical, comfortable as well as cute. They have recently released panty liners which I haven't seen before. They are made from super soft bamboo fabric and are the first UK brand to use recycled plastic to make waterproof PUL which they use for the pads and waterproof bags. This brand is certainly one to invest in for their ethos as well as their products.
Honestly, I love my reusable period products and they make me feel more prepared when mother nature visits. Do you think you will swap to a reusable alternative? Have you already? Let me know in the comments!